In Mississippi, you may observe eight woodpeckers out of the many species found across North America. We’ll look at each species in this article, as well as when and where you might spot one, and whether or not they feed in your backyard. A few suggestions on how to entice woodpeckers to your property are provided at the conclusion of the article.
8 SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN MISSISSIPPI
Downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and red-cockaded woodpecker are the eight species of Mississippi Woodpeckers.
1. DOWNY WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens
- Length: 5.5-6.7 in
- Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
- Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
These little woodpeckers can be found year-round in Mississippi. They’re practically ubiquitous in the United States. They are North America’s smallest woodpeckers, and they are also the world’s smallest.
The white dots on the downy’s backs, as well as its pure white chest and belly, distinguish it from the sparrows. A red patch on the back of their heads distinguishes males from females.
The most common woodpecker species seen on backyard bird feeders is the downy. They enjoy suet but also consume sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts. When their tiny beak permits them access to the sugar water, you may even see them visiting your hummingbird feeder.
2. HAIRY WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
- Length: 7.1-10.2 in
- Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
You might be curious if the bird in this photo is another downy woodpecker. They do not look similar, but they do appear similar. Downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers both live in the US. When you’re trying to figure out which one is which, there’s a good chance of confusion.
In comparison to its body size, the hairy woodpecker is substantially bigger and has a greater beak. You may find information on how to differentiate between them in our page here.
In all aspects of their lives, these two woodpeckers are very similar. They can be found year-round in Mississippi. The hairy woodpecker is less uncomfortable with humans, but they do visit backyard suet feeders more than the downy woodpecker does.
3. NORTHERN FLICKER
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
In backyards all throughout the United States, these medium-sized woodpeckers are very frequent. They’re also, in my opinion, some of North America’s most beautiful birds.
Unlike other woodpeckers, Flickers prefer to find insects on the ground rather than in trees, which they feed on. The black markings on their bellies, thick black bib, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings will help you identify them. A black mustached man is the counterpart of a female.
The yellow-shafted variety is found in Mississippi, and the underside of their wings and tail are bright yellow.
4. PILEATED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
- Length: 15.8-19.3 in
- Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz
- Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in
In Mississippi and North America, the pileated woodpecker is the biggest of all woodpeckers. They feature a large red crest and a black body with white stripes. The cheek stripe of males is red, but that of females is not.
In states with sufficient woodlands, pileated woodpeckers may be observed.
Look for mature woodlands if you want to find a pileated woodpecker. They like rotting wood on ancient, dead trees. While they are less frequent visitors than other species, pileated woodpeckers will occasionally feed at backyard suet feeders, although they are generally too big for all but the biggest.
5. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Length: 7.5-9.1 in
- Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
- Wingspan: 16.5 in
The crimson/crimson head of the red-headed woodpecker, combined with a black and white color-blocked body, is unmistakable. They’ll occasionally visit suet feeders, but they’re less frequent than other types of woodpeckers in the back yard. They will devour nuts and fruits in addition to suet.
Acorns and beech nuts are among the four kinds of woodpeckers that store their food in caches for future consumption, along with one other species. The food is covered in bark or wood by these woodpeckers, who will even go so far as to conceal it with their stash.
They may be found all throughout Mississippi, although they are not as common as other species.
6. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
- Length: 9.4 in
- Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
Throughout Mississippi and much of the eastern United States, the red-bellied woodpecker may be found year-round. In feeders and in backyards, these medium-sized woodpeckers are rather frequent. With suet and bigger-sized nuts, attract them.
The brilliant red stripe along the back of their heads, as well as their heavily barred black and white wings, are what first catches your attention. Their breast is ordinary white, but below their “belly” region, which is usually not apparent, there is a patch of pinkish-red.
The tongue of a red-bellied woodpecker can stretch out almost 2 inches from its beak. They can lash their tongue out to capture insects from difficult to access areas, with a barbed end and adhesive spit.
7. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER
- Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
- Length: 7.1-8.7 in
- Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz
- Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in
During the winter months, Mississippi is home to the yellow-bellied sapsucker. They will breed in the spring and depart the state in the spring.
They have a yellow wash on their white feathers and a crimson stripe across the top of their head, which makes them look similar to the downy woodpecker at first. A red throat will be seen in both sexes.
Since sap is their primary food source, they aren’t common at bird feeders. With their long tongues, they drill holes in maple, elm, aspen, and birch trees and collect sap. Their presence is indicated by a row of tiny holes on a tree trunk. They also feed on a variety of insects, some of which get stuck in the viscid sap around their wells, in addition to sap.
8. RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates borealis
- Length: 7.9-9.1 in
- Weight: 1.5-1.8 oz
- Wingspan: 14.2 in
The range of red-cockaded woodpeckers is just southern United States, and they are only found in this region. The Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Bienville National Forest, Homochitto National Forest, and De Soto National Forest are among the locations where they have been observed in Mississippi.
Longleaf pine stands are where these woodpeckers thrive. The majority of the understory is burned away in wildfires, which they liked. Most of this habitat has been destroyed because of logging, and its populations have severely decreased. They were designated as an endangered species in 1970.
Their unusual name comes from a minuscule red line on the side of a guy’s head that is hardly noticeable. A fancy tern for a ribbon that is worn on a hat is called a cockade. Their red-cockade, then, is a plumage line that is red in color.
Otherwise, their back is black with white dots, and their belly is white with black lines down the side. They have a large patch of white across the cheek, similar to downy and hairy woodpeckers.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Those of us who enjoy watching birds in the backyard want to attract as many species as possible. Woodpeckers may be a bit more difficult to attract and prefer more particular foods than many songbirds, but they are nonetheless very easy to attract with birdseed. To make your yard more appealing to woodpeckers, here are a few suggestions to consider.
- Many sorts of woodpeckers are bold enough to approach feeders, so offer food they like. Suet is the finest food for attracting woodpeckers, even if other species eat seeds and nuts. Make sure you get a suet feeder with a tail prop area that will attract bigger woodpecker species.
- Woodpeckers like dead and decaying trees that are simple to bore holes in and have loads of insect larvae for them to devour. Leave dead trees alone.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries, apples, mulberry and brambles.
- Woodpeckers will utilize bird baths in the same way as any other birds, so make sure you have a water source accessible, and preferably one with a water mover or solar fountain to draw them.